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this nature, from a conversation which The warmth of Sigismonda's constiI had laft in a polite company, about tution, however, would not permit her the celebrated fable of Sigismonda and to do without a lover. In order, thereGuiscard, as trandated from Boccace, fore, to gratify her wishes, and yet by Mr. Dryden. This performance offer no violence to the laws of virtue, every body mentioned with an air of the cast her eyes round her father's rapture; it was exquisitely tender in the court, and made choice of Guiscard, sentiment, astonishingly nervous in the who had formerly been a page in the argument; and for versification, was su- palace, and was not a little celebrated perior to any thing in the English lan- both for his mental and personal acguage. For my own part, Mr. Babler, complishments. Having determined in I could by no means see in what the relation to the nian, her next care was amazing merit of this poem confilted: to make an appointment with him, as to the tendency, I am sure it is to the which the effc&ted in a very artful man.. laft degree dangerous; is to the con- ner, and went to the place of rendez." dut, it is both against reason and na- vous hertelf, attended by a priest, that ture; and as to the literary merit, matters might be settled out of hand. though there is here and there an ema- Sigismonda having now obtained her nation of genius, yet where there is great with, a husband, contrived by one tolerable line, there are fifiy in. every means in her power to keep the finitely 100 flat and insipid to be admit- matter fill a secret from her father : ted into the last page of a common but unluckily, one day, as she was give news-paper.
ing a loose to the warmest transports with That I may not feem on this occasion her beloved Guiscard, the old king acto reckon without my host, I shall take cidentally became a witness of their inthe liberty of recapitulating the prin- tercourse, and believing very naturally cipal circunstances of the story; these, that his daughter was a strumpet, detera therefore, are as follow: Tancred, King mined, and, in my opinion, not unof Salerno, had a most beautiful wo- justly, to take an ample revenge on the man for a daughter, whom he married man who had, as he conceived, so au. to a neighbouring monarch; but that daciously violated the honour of his fa. prince dying, Sigisinonda, which was mily. With this view he retired for the name of the lady, returned to her that time unperceived, and ordered a father's court, and was received with a couple of sturdy fellows to way-lay degree of uncommon rapture by her Guiscard, and take him into custody father, who had always loved her with the next time he paid a secret visit to the an incredible affection.
princess. This order was executed acUnhappily, however, Sigismonda was cordingly, and Sigismonda was stretched of a mort amorous constitution; the poet upon the lover's hell a whole night, im. himself tells us
patiently waiting for the appearance of
her husband, and burning at once with Youth, health, and ease, and a most
all the vehemence of the most ardent ex. amorous mind, To second nuptials had her thoughts
pectation, and all the fury of the most inclin'd,
inordinate love. And former jo;s had left a secret fing
Next morning, when she appeared be. behind.
fore her father, the good old king, to
preserve the dignity of both their cha. Had I a design to criticise severely on racters, treated her with his accustomed the last line, I should naturally con. tenderness till all their attendants reclude that her deceased husband had be- tired : he then, in the moft affecting queathed her some marks of his affec. terims, declaimed upon her guilt, mention that required an immediate appli- tioned his, own excessive fondness for cation to the surgeon : but little errors her, and begged the would say fomeare below a serious observation. The thing in extenuation of her crime, since fling here mentioned, I suppose, means it was impossible to varnish it over with nothing more than an encreased desire any feasible excuse. He concluded, for a bed fellow; and therefore I shall however, with the strongest menaces wave a comment upon the expression, againft Guiscard, ftill imagining that and go on contentedly with my narra. he was nothirg more than the paramour tive.
of his dau ber.
Hitherto Tancred's behaviour was " Tancred, I neither am disposid to make nothing but what might be stafon. • Request for life, nor offer'd life to take; ably expected both from a monarch
• Much Icfs denv the deed, but leaft of all and a man. But the delicate Sigis.
" Beneath , retended justice weakly fall; monda, to eftablish the character of
• My words to facred truth thall be con
• find, a heroine, was to act in immediate opposition to the sentiments of nature. In.
« My deeds thall thew the greatness of my
! mind. ituaci, therefore, of falling at her father's
That I have lov'd, I own; that still I love, feet, and endeavouring to excite hisp:ry "I call to witness all the p w’rs above: and forgiveness, she put on the unbluth- • Yet more I own; to Guiscard's ince I give ing front of a Covent Garden (trumpet, • The small remaining time I have to live; called him a tyrant repeatedly, and told . And if beyond this date defire can be, him, that she had married Guiscard • Not Fate itself ihall set my pasion free. from an impossibility to live without an • This firft avowd; nor folly warp'd my intercourse of sex with some boily, since
• mind, he (Tancred) took so little pains to get
• Nor the frail texure of the female kind her another husband. Thai I inay not
• Betray'd ny virtue ; for too well I knew seem to exaggerate, I shall here give part
( What bonour was, and honour bad bis of Tancred's speech, and part of her
" Before the holy priest my vows were tyd, reply
" Sa came I not a ftrumpet, but a bride;
.. This for my fame, and for the public voice: • As I have lov'd, and yet I love thee more, " Yet more, his merits justify'd my choice; • Than ever father lov'd a child before ;
" Which had they not, the first election thine, So that indulgence draws me to forgive ; " That bond diffolv'd, the next is frecly mine; i Nature that gives thee life would have thee
• Or grant I err’d, (which yet I muft deny) o live.
' Had paren.spow reven second vows to tie; • But as a public parent of the fate,
Thy little care tonend mywidow'dzigdis, My justice, and thy crime, requires thy • Has fore'dm- tor course of mirri gerises, ! fate.
' Topillanımpty side, ond fllow knewn de• Fain would I chuse a middle course to feer;
ligles. • Nature's too kind, and justice too severe: " What have I done in this deserving blame? • Speak for us both, and to the balance bring
• State laws may alter, nature's are the same: « On either side the father and the king.
" These are ufurp'd on helpless women.kind, • Heav'n kiows my heart is bent to favour • Made without our content, and wanting ! thee;
pow'r to bind.' • Make it but scanty weight, and leave the I reit to me.'
Sigismonda's harangue, you know, Here stopping with a figh, he pour'd a flood Mi. Babler, is a very long one, and in Of tears, tu make the lait expresion good.
several passages contains sentiments inFrom this behaviour of Tancred's,
finitely too gross for the ear of a deli. and from the prodigious fondness which
cate reader. The public, however, from he had always manifested for her, Sigil.
these cursory obfervations, will imme
diately see that the conduct of Tan. monda had the strongest reason in the world to expect a pardon from her fa
cred, if not totally excusable, has at ther; but no-lhe was to treat the ve
least not a little to be faid in it's de. perable prince with the utmost indig
fence; and they will also fee, that nity; to fit an example of ignorant din
highly as Sigismonda has been admired obedience to all posterity, and to facri.
for her fpirit and her virtue by a number fice the life of a man whom he par
of writers, that admiration has been fionately love'l, merely because the poet
much more the effect of their complai. wanted to make her an heroine.-Rifum
fance than the result of her deservings. teneatis amici...Here begins her an
I am, Sir, &c.
N° LXIX. SATURDAY, MAY 22.
of mankind, the less difference we shall SIR,
find made by the circumstance of rank.
, church-yard to the northward like their follies, are pretty nearly reof this metropolis, I was not a little en- lated, and spring pretty much from the tertained with an inscription upon the same motives, if we may form the least tombstone of an honelt Cooper, which, opinion by their ends. If the man of faby way of arrogating bis confequence, thion squanders away an estate at Newmentioned, that havi he lived but two market, the journeyman artizan is equal. years longer, he had been junior wardenly ready to part with his all, at an hum, of his company:
ble game of Dutch pins, or the throwing It is an abluid opinion which a great of a piece at the shuffle-board: if his many people entertain, that pride and Grace finds the summit of human feli. self-lufficiency are entirely confined to city in a bon vivant circle at Almack's, the superior orders of mankind, since or the Cocoa Tiee, the porter is equally the minuteft examination into human happy over a tankard of Calvert's En. nature would fufficiently convince us, tire Butt, at the Horseshoe and Magpye; that the veriest plebeian in creation has and looks upon himself to be every whit his species of vanity, and is poffeffed of as much entitled to a right of damning fome particular advantage, which, in his the waiter, and disturbing the company, own opinion, gives him a pre-eminence as the first lord in the univerfe; nay, in over all the world: a ribband or a ftar his amours, he is to the full as proflia we generally imagine to be no inconti- gate, and will pick up his occasional derable sources of self-fulficience; yet I fille de joue with the same happy inathave seen a farmer's servant, in his Sun. tention to the constitution of his wife day's cotton waistcoat, assume more airs, and the welfare of his family. Condiand ftrut about a village with a look of tion, in fact, is the child of Fortune; greater consequence, than ever I saw and rank, though it may polith the among a crowd of the first nobility in course of nature, can never totally alter the drawing-room.
it; so that to suppose the various ltuaHowever we may look upon pride to tions of life are not actuated by fimilar be the offspring of condition, a very inclination in the main, is to fuppose our. small hare of recollection will convince felves totally unacquainted both with the us, that the latent principles of it are sentiments of the world, and the prinequally implanted in the botoms of high ciples of common underitanding. and low by the unrespecting hand of To make a proper application of the nature; and perhaps, when we come to foregoing reflections, we must confider, consider matters a little farther, we may that in disposing of the various lots in find that this very pride is given us by human affairs, the benignity of Provithe particular goodness of Providence to dence intended an equal portion of felireconcile us to our various situations, city for all: he wisely designed that if the and to raise the chearful sun of lerenity poor man had nothing more than a cota upon that lot, which we might other tage, his wishes should be contracted to wise be tempted to look upon with a the scanty limits of his little hut; and constant mortification and regret. Thus meant to bless him with as ample a porfar telf-sufficience may be looked upon, tion of content over an humble meal of not only as useful, but as fortunate: the vegetables, as if all the luxuries of the momeni, nevertheless, in which it leads universe were collected for his entertain. us to forget what is due to the merits of ment, and served up in the moft captiothers, that moment it deviates from the vating rounds of an exquisite variety original end of it's institution, becomes and a striking magnificence. It is gecriminal as well as ridiculous, and equal. nerally the fault of man himself, if ever ly exposes us to the universal aversion he is wretched. True happiness, as I and the universal contempt.
have already said, exists only in the The more we examine the behaviour mind, however absurdly we may sup
pose it to result from an affluence of was burnt to the ground, inftead of la. circumstances, or an elevation of digni- menting over the loss, he rejoiced that ty: he therefore that complains of being he himfelf had not perished in the flames; miferable, does nothing more in fact, and once, when the small-pox had than upbraid himself with inconsistency; snatched away a fine little girl of whom his wretchedness, if he seriously enters he was excessively fond, Dick returned into a discussion of the matter, will be thanks to Providence, that the diftemfound to proceed from the want of some. per had communicated to no other perthing which he can do very well with son in his family; by this means he got out; and every foundation of complaint the better of calamity, and started from will appear to be the cunsequence of his the furnace of affliction with an addi. own folly, notwithstanding the impious tional degree of excellence in proportion fupposition that it entirely arises from the as he was tried. Is it necefl'ary to en. unkindness of his God.
force this example with the reader of Of all the philosophers I ever met, I understanding ? By no manner of means. do not remember to have known so truly Heroes and philosophers have been frefensible a fellow as poor Dick Wilkins. quently proposed as objects of univerDick, by never indulging too fanguine fal admiration; their lives, however, are an expectation, was sure to encounter infinitely inferior, in point of moral in. but few disappointments; where he struction, to honet Dick Wilkins; they wanted real foundations for affirmative may dazzle, but he delights; and though happiness, if I may beg the word, he we dwell with a kind of awe upon the would build himself a kind of negative exalted tinsel of a celebrated naine, yet felicity; and out of misfortunes, which reason always gives a preference to those other people looked upon as irreparable, characters who have most eminently furnish himself with continual subjects distinguished themselves both as Chris of confolation. Thus, when his house tians and as men.
NO LXX. SATURDAY, MAY 29.
"HOUGH it is universally allow. Wycherly, Congreve, and Vanburg, to a greater degree of knowledge in our levity, were endeavouring to fay brilliant theatrical entertainments, yet a number things rather than just ones; and inju. of sensible critics are continually insist. diciously imagined that a lively fiath of ing that there is a visible decay in our wit was a sufficient excuse for the rank. dramatical productions; not only our ett indecencies, or the most palpable at. performers, but our writers, are inen- tack upon the religion of their country. tioned in a light of the most contemptu- That our dramatic writers, before the ous comparison with their predecessors fait half century, inight poffefs a greater of the last half century; and it is confi- share of wit than their fucceffors, I shall dered, by the generality of people, as by no means deny; but then it does not an instance either of ihe groílett igno- follow that this superiority in wit fhould rance, or the Itrongest presumption, to entitle them to a superiority of reputa'fuppose any thing like an equal degree tion. Wit, in fact, is hui a secondary of abilities.
requisite to a dramatic poet; judgment The gentlemen who criticise in this is the first qualification; and he that accurate manner, seem, however, to pay wisely attends to the cultivation of the but little attention to the original insti. mind, is by much a preferahle writer tution of the stage; they imagine it was to him whó sacrifices every thing to an entirely calculated for amusement, with- agreeable flippancy of expression, and out having the least view to the great aims at nothing more than to excite the business of instruction; and to it could rilibility of his auditors. For thele rea. produce a ridiculous laugh, no matter fons, though I admise Wycherly, Conwhat became either of our morals or our greve, and Vanburg, as men of wit, understandings. This whimical mode yet, as dramatic authors, I hold them in of thinking, it is ealy to discover, has no extraordinary estimation; on the taken it's rise from the comedies of contrary, I look upon them with the
greatest contempt, for perverting the super able disguft; they may equally original end of the stage, and prostitut- laugh at nature and instruction, and afing such abilities as they possessed in the feet to ridicule every argument to which infamous purposes of licentiousness and they find themselves unable to reply; immorality,
but the judicious enquirer will consider I am well aware that upon this occa. wit, when employed in the destruction fon it will be remarked, that the lite- of virtue, as the most infamous of all rary levity of these celebrated writers prostitutions. It is like a man of gewas the vice of their age; and that, in nius, who argues against the existence 'conformity to the general opinion, they of the Deity; and becomes obnoxious were under a necessity of wiiting to the to fociety in proportion as he is curled depravities of the people. If,' say a with abilities; initead, therefore, of benumber of our fagacious critics, the ing found a justification of the writers • authors under consideration repre- in dispute, it becomes, in my opinion, « fented human nature in a diffolute an invincible objection to their works;
light, they represented human nature and the more we are fascinated with the
as they found it. Their villains and brilliancy of their productions, the more • their ítrumpets were characters very we see a necessity for wishing those pro• frequently met with, and they only ductions had perished at their firft ap• caught the manners as they rose to re- pearance under the hands of the com• flect them with an additional energy mon executioner. • on the public. This argument is The writers of the present times, howevidently fallacious, and can scarce de- ever despised by the bigots of a dramaserve a serious examination: to represent tical herefy, have, if we may judge by human nature as they found it, would their performances, an infinitely stronghave given no room for exception; huter claim to our admiration than any their great error was in representing of their celebrated predecessors, who, those parts of it in an amiable lighi, actuated by an illiberal thirst of fame, which were entitled to universal abhor- were led to seek it from the depravities rence and contempt. Their villains and of mankind. They sensibly recollect their trumpets were set up as objects of the sole end of the Itage is to blend amusegeneral admiration; and vice fought in- ment with instruction, and therefore der the mask of an agreeable vivacity, never negle&t the heart through a view with a success that should make every of bawding to the imagination; hence, feeling mind tremble, leit so dangerous instead of finding them eternally on the a weapon as wit should at any future scent for foip-Inap and repartee, we fee period be unhappily lodged in such del- them studious in the discovery of manly perate hands.
sentiments and laudable refle Etions; and It has often filled me with astonish- observe a general endeavour, while they ment to hear men of good sense fre- labour for our approbation as writers, quently arguing in defence of Wycher- to obtain our good opinion as men. ly, Congreve, and Vanburg; by saying This good opinion they will be always that their wit should be an excule for their fure of obraining, as long as they pro. licentiousness; and pleading that it was fecute the exalced principles which have even worth our while to have vicious hicherto influenced their conduct; and compolitions, provided the vice was but it is with the greatest fatisfaction I see decorated with such forcible attractions their pieces frequently represented to as these writers have given it. People crouded audiences, while the produce who talk in this manner may indeed tions of a Wycherly, a Congreve, and look down upon the correcter produc. a Vanburg, are suffered to languila in tions of later days with an air of in- the moit merited contempt.
N° LXXI. SATURDAY, JUNE 5.
for a man of narrow circumstances pany, and rendeis hin particularly en. to possess an agreeable voice, or to be tertaining to his acquaintance. In such maiter of any other requisite which ex- a case, the general applause with which